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Confused by 'Academic References'

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    Ok basically I'm an undergraduate student having trouble in my Masters application for certain universities because they all want 'Academic References'. All the universities I am applying for are different to the one I'm currently studying at. Here are my problems:

    1) How am I even supposed to get/send a reference? Do I just email my lecturer and ask him to write me a reference and email it back to me (shouldn't it be confidential)? Or am I supposed get him to send my reference directly to the universities I'm applying to (this seems to waste a lot of his time)? Or am I supposed to just list the referees name/address and then wait for the university to specifically ask for me to get a reference? Information on the uni websites is pretty unclear on this so I'm totally confused.

    2) My lecturers at university barely knew me; There is only one (my dissertation supervisor) I even talked to at all. They don't even know my academic ability because all our work is anonymously marked. It seems kind of embarrassing asking for references from people I don't even know.

    The application process for postgraduate is really infuriating, I have to say. Any help would be appreciate

    I can answer your first question to some extent - when you are completing your application for any university you can usually enter your referees' information (e-mail, phone etc) and then the university you are applying to will contact them. Most unis also seem to be fine with the referees sending in their letters by e-mail/snailmail if they wish to do so. Basically, just find out what the formalities are for each specific uni you are interested in (it is usually explained when you are filling in your app). However, make sure to give your professors a heads up. Just write them and tell who you are, what classes you took with them (and the grades), which unis/courses you are applying to and ask if they are willing to provide you with a reference. 99% of the time they are fine to do that.

    Now, your second point is a bit more complicated. First of all, don't feel embarassed for asking a reference. It's completely normal and the professors get approached by similar requests more often than you may think. Besides, chances are that they DO remember you - just contact them because if you don't, you won't be able to apply at all. In the worst case scenario, they will say no. Even though it is hard to give an excellent reference letter for someone you don't know very well, it is still possible to provide a decent one as long as it involves more than just a confirmation you took their classes (I've seen some "reference" letters doing that, basically just having 1-2 sentences - but such cases are extremely rare).

    1) Contact your professors, give them relevant information about yourself and the courses you are applying to and ask for a reference.
    2) Fill in applications and provide information (usually name, position, uni, phone/e-mai) about your referees when it is asked.

    You need at least 2 lecturers or seminar tutors who know of you. Likely the seminar tutors will have spoken with you and know you a bit better for interacting with them.

    You can write to a referee and ask for a reference which will be an A4 sheet with the university logo on with a few sentences saying this student had good attendance, punctuality and contributed to seminar discussions and will be an excellent candidate for further study at postgraduate level.

    So you can attach this reference to an application or the admissions will ask for a A4 sheet with the name and email for who to be contacted and they deal with getting a reference before making an offer.

    I applied to SOAS for masters and on their application system you submit a reference email and name and job title and the system emails and asks for a reference which will be a link to a text box and that is that.
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